Wheel misalignment can cause uneven tyre wear, which can speed up the time in between tyre replacements and cost you more money than expected it will also increase your vehicles fuel consumption.
It’s recommended that you get your wheel alignment checked at least once a year but certainly after you have hit a kerb or pothole, new tyres are fitted, any steering and suspension components are replaced or the vehicle has been involved in any form of accident or collision … failure to do so will result in premature tyre life and costly and unnecessary tyre replacements.
What happens during a Wheel Alignment?
Alignment refers to an adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension – the system that connects a vehicle to its wheels. It is not an adjustment of the tyres or wheels themselves. The key to proper alignment is adjusting the angles of the tyres which affects how they make contact with the road. During this process, we’ll place your car on a ramp and mount cameras to each wheel – these will measure the angles of the wheels and the results are displayed on a screen and compared against the vehicle manufacturers settings.
Once the readings are given on the screen our trained technicians at either of our centres in Stockton; Teesdale, or Darlington will then begin to carry out the necessary adjustments to bring your vehicle’s alignment back into the manufacturers’ tolerances.
Why do I need a wheel alignment?
Uneven wear can seriously impair a tyre’s performance, and can even put lives at risk as an unevenly worn tyre is at risk of a blowout.
Misaligned wheels also cause poorer fuel economy, as misaligned wheels have greater resistance with the road, leading to higher fuel consumption. It has been found that by adopting preventative wheel alignment, there was an improvement of up to 20% of average tyre life.
What happens if my wheels are not aligned correctly?
In most cases, you’ll be able to tell that something is wrong with your car. You might not know that these issues are caused by wheel alignment, so watch out for…
1.) Your steering wheel is off centre: If you’re driving straight down a flat, level road, your steering wheel should be sitting close to perfectly straight. There’s usually a small amount of discrepancy allowed depending on the crown of the road, but overall the wheel should be sitting centred and straight, and your vehicle emblem in the centre of the steering wheel should appear level to you.
If the wheel is off centre by more than a few degrees in either direction, it’s time to have an alignment performed. This will return your steering wheel to centre and may improve the overall drivability as well.
2.) Your vehicle pulls in one direction or the other: Similar to the first point, vehicle pull is most easily noticed while driving straight down a level road. There is a common misconception that the vehicle should drive perfectly straight with your hands off the steering wheel. In a perfect world, this would be true, but in reality, this isn’t the case because all roads have some degree of crowning which causes a slight pull to one side.
Completely removing your hands from the steering wheel is also very dangerous. Instead, the vehicle should drive straight ahead with very little effort on the steering wheel. If your car pulls to one side or the other, it’s time to have your alignment checked and corrected which usually corrects the vehicle pull and improves overall drivability.
3.) Abnormal tyre wear in certain spots: Tyre wear can speak volumes about the condition of a car. A qualified technician can use tyre wear patterns to make educated guesses about tire pressures, suspension condition, and alignment problems. Wear on only the inside or outside edges of tyres indicates a problem with the camber adjustment. Feathering or scalloping of the tyres often indicates a problem with the toe adjustment.
Tyre wear is most often noticed by a mechanic while performing a tyre rotation, inspection, or service. If you have any of these abnormal tyre wear patterns, then you should consider having an alignment performed on your vehicle. There is an added benefit in that proper alignment greatly increases the life of your tyres by ensuring they wear evenly.
4.) The vehicle handling feels loose: If the steering in your car feels a little loose or unstable, one of the possible causes is poor wheel alignment. This can be felt as wandering all over the road when driving, or the car feeling very loose and sloppy around corners.
If your vehicle feels unstable while driving, regardless of driving straight or turning, you should have the alignment checked, then corrected if necessary.
5.) Your steering wheel doesn’t return to centre: After you complete a turn, the steering wheel should naturally start to return to centre on its own as you keep driving.
Of course, you need to keep your hands on the wheel to help it achieve this quicker and keep control of the car, but if your steering wheel doesn’t even attempt to move back to centre, then it’s a good indication that your alignment is off. If this is the case, then you should have an alignment check done, and a full alignment performed if necessary.
How often should I get my car’s wheels realigned?
There is no gold standard as every car and driving environment is different. We would recommend at least once a year, and certainly after you have hit a kerb or pothole, new tyres are fitted, any steering and suspension components are replaced or the vehicle has been involved in any form of accident or collision.
Next time you visit one of our Auto Care centres in either Stockton; Teesdale, or Darlington, speak to a member of staff to ask how often you should come in for wheel realignment. They’ll be able to recommend a timeframe based on driving specifics.
Wheel Alignment at The Auto Care Group
Book a wheel alignment at one of our garages in Stockton; Teesdale, or Darlington today on our state of the art Snap-On Wheel alignment systems. You’ll benefit from correct even tyre wear, better steering control and handling and improved fuel consumption.
You can book online at www.autocare.group, or if you’d prefer – call Stockton on 01642 676667 or Darlington on 01325 488855.